Sunday, July 17, 2005


I don't usually like to watch "Meet The Press" because not only do I find it infuriating, I also find it harmful. I mean, for the most part, the people on the show have something to hide and it almost always stays hidden and/or is obscured even more by some fast talkin'. And so the harmful part of the show is that rather than being educated by it, I feel that one actually "unlearns" by watching it.

But today I watched it anyway and thought it wasn't too bad. It never ceases to amaze me how some people (since 2000, it's been almost exclusively Republicans) can be faced with a fact, dead to rights, and still act like it isn't true, it's not a fact, etc. RNC chairman Ken Mehlman did this beautifully when Tim Russert pointed out that, by the admission of all parties involved, Karl Rove was Matt Cooper's source on Valerie Plame's identity ("Wilson's wife" can only mean "Valerie Plame") and was therefore at least one of the leakers.

Mehlman acted as if that fact just didn't exist and proceeded to make up his own because he knows that Rush's listeners and Fox watchers will buy into it. He said that the information now available exonerates Rove rather than implicates him. But he knows that that argument is poppycock--he can't actually believe what he's saying. He's like the stereotypical drug dealer, and lies are the drug he's peddling. He wants you to get hooked on them but he knows better than to try the junk himself.

Krugman had a column this past week that really exposed and explained this kind of behavior:

What Mr. Rove understood, long before the rest of us, is that we're not living in the America of the past, where even partisans sometimes changed their views when faced with the facts. Instead, we're living in a country in which there is no longer such a thing as nonpolitical truth. In particular, there are now few, if any, limits to what conservative politicians can get away with: the faithful will follow the twists and turns of the party line with a loyalty that would have pleased the Comintern.

And that part in bold has been the poisoned genius of the Republican disinformation campaign that has gone on since at least the late 60s. They got their own thinktanks doing "research" and publishing "findings" that are at odds with the mainstream of whatever field you can name, and then "working the refs" for access to the supposedly "liberal media" until there are now perceived to be two versions of reality--the actual one and the crazy rightwing one (sane rightists believe in the actual reality). Indeed, these days, as Krugman points out, "the facts are irrelevant" to these crazed cons in any given argument--global warming (it doesn't exist), tax cuts (help the poor), separation of church and state (they shouldn't be separate), and so forth.

The Logic Of Suicide Terrorism

And a new book by Robert Pape explodes another cherished wingnut myth--that Islamic fundamentalism is out to take over the world through terrorist attacks. His new book is called "Dying To Win: The Strategic Logic Of Suicide Terrorism" and I have only read a few pages of the intro and seen the last ten to fifteen minutes of his appearance on "Washington Journal" this morning.

But what an intro! He says that he's compiled a list of the 315 suicide-bomb terrorist attacks that have taken place everywhere in the world from 1980-2003. That includes two Intifadas, unrest in Chechnya, and so forth and so on--I'm assuming he used '03 as the cutoff because that's when the war in Iraq started. And guess what his conclusion was? Why it's what educated, reasonable people have been saying for years and the reason that suicide bombers themselves almost always give--to end occupation of their land or to bring an end to some wrong they feel is being continuously committed against them.

And on a side note, I was surprised to read that there have been only 315 suicide attacks--of course, one is too many, but as many times as one hears about suicide attacks, it feels like there have been thousands upon thousands of them. And there have only been 315. And the group that has committed the most of these atrocities is not even Islamic. It's the Tamil Tigers of Sri Lanka, a Marxist group.

In this interview in the American Conservative, Pape says that Islam is not necessarily the overriding motivation for suicide attacks. Here's what I thought was the relevant text:
The central fact is that overwhelmingly suicide-terrorist attacks are not driven by religion as much as they are by a clear strategic objective: to compel modern democracies to withdraw military forces from the territory that the terrorists view as their homeland. From Lebanon to Sri Lanka to Chechnya to Kashmir to the West Bank, every major suicide-terrorist campaign—over 95 percent of all the incidents—has had as its central objective to compel a democratic state to withdraw.

So the principle is as simple as this--don't antagonize people just for the sake of it, just because you can. Or, specifically in our case, don't invade Iraq just because we feel like it. They don't like that. Disagreements should always be settled in the manner that can be seen as equitable by all parties involved. For but one example of how revenge and excessively punitive measures create monsters, recall that resentment about the terms of the 1919 Treaty of Versailles was one of the conditions Hitler was able to exploit to accomplish his malicious ends.

So I guess I gotta get the book...hopefully it will help turn the tide in favor of our withdrawing from Iraq and ceasing to antagonize other nations/people. But I doubt it--see above about the politics of truth...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Don't let one man's facts become your sole argument, you may want to add "The Age of Sacred Terror" written by Daniel Benjamin and Steven Simon for a counter-view of suicide bombers. Fundamentalist Muslims are like Fundamentalist Christains, they twist their holy books to mean what they want to believe rather than what they actually say. Radical Islam has essentially two agendas, the elimination of jahiliyya (appostate muslim governments, any muslim government that does not rule strictly by Sharia) and the establishment of a world-spanning caliphate of true believers. To the radicals we are in a time of an Islamic Armagedeon, the whole world will burn and afterwards only the "true believers" will be left to inherit the world. Single-minded belief in anything is couter-productive if not outright harmful, before condeming your adversary make sure there is nothing validating his side of the argument.
By the way, Daniel Benjamin and Steven Simon both lean to the left and served under President Clinton, so please don't dismiss them just because they were recommended by someone who leans a little more to the right.